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God Vs Family


Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). God’s foremost commandment is, “I am the LORD your God … You shall not have other gods beside me. … I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God” (Ex 20:2-5). Even the love of children more than of God is not acceptable. “A man of God came to Eli” and asked him, “Why do you honour your sons more than you honour me, fattening yourselves with the choicest part of every offering of my people Israel?” (1 Sam 2:29).

Jesus was stricter on family relations than on the teachings of the elders on honoring parents. He taught, “For God said, ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to father or mother, Any support you might have had from me is dedicated to God, need not honour his father.’ You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Mt 15:4-6). However, there can be instances when one might get pressurized by one’s parents, other members of one’s family, or friends to give up faith for the sake of family unity. In such an instance, faith should be a priority because only Jesus and not members of the family can give us eternal salvation. Jesus’ goal was not to devalue family bonds, but to highlight the importance of faithfulness to him.

Once a Pharisee who was also a scholar of the law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36) Quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mt 22:37-40). Hence, love and fidelity to God has priority over the love of fellow humans, which includes members of one’s family. Jesus clarified to his followers that, in case a conflict arises on belief, they should give precedence to faith. So, a disciple can be subject to family hatred because of faith in Jesus.

For Jesus, all his faithful followers are also his family. Once someone informed him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” His response was, “‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother’” (Mt 12:46-50).


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